When Neighbors Become Family

A serendipitous meeting leads to couple falling in love, engagement, and marriage

By Elizabeth McGarity


In 2020, I moved into my parents’ new home at The Cliffs at Keowee Falls where I would virtually complete my final year at Vanderbilt Law School. My grandparents, Peter and Cathy Rogers, have been members at The Cliffs since the early 2000s, so I was fortunate to grow up visiting them at Keowee Vineyards.

One September afternoon, my computer was broken and I couldn’t study, so I decided to join my family for a day on the lake instead. As we were on our way back to our home, we saw our neighbors sitting on their dock, so we stopped to introduce ourselves. That day I met Dawn and Trip McGarity, and their son, Hamilton. My family teased me about the cute boy as we boated back home a few docks away. I felt a strange urge to get in contact with Hamilton and considered leaving my number under a rock on their dock.

A few days later my friend picked me up so we could enjoy Chef Francis’ watermelon dinner at the Lakehouse. I mentioned that I had met a neighbor our age. My friend convinced me to find him on Instagram and send him a message, something I would normally never do. But having been part of The Cliffs communities for so long, I knew that a neighborly message to play golf or wakesurf sometime would be well received.

Hamilton and I chatted on Instagram for a week, both wondering why a conversation was still going on social media, and not in person. A little while after we exchanged information, we planned a round of golf at Keowee Falls, and soon after that, I came clean about almost leaving my number under the rock. Hamilton and I became friends, went on walks to the waterfall, wakesurfed, went to Clemson games, and played many rounds of golf at the various courses. As our relationship progressed, my family and the McGarity family became friends, too, sharing dinners at the clubhouses and holidays together on Lake Keowee.

Fast forward to Memorial Day 2022, our families had a cookout planned by the lake. Hamilton asked me to come down to the dock with him, where I found a piece of paper under a rock. Having come full circle from the day I met him, his phone number was written on that piece of paper, along with “will you marry me?”

I had driven by that very spot countless times since I was 6 years old, but little did I know what would transpire there. It was on that dock that we met and on that dock where we committed to be together for many years to come. Looking back, I can’t help but think how lucky it is that we met. I was not supposed to be on that boat, and had we come back five minutes earlier, the McGaritys would still be on their way home from the golf course. This reaffirmed something I’d always believed— what’s meant to be will find a way.

The Cliffs and Lake Keowee have been such an important part of my life for 20-plus years, and now both have even more meaning. We look forward to our continued weekend trips to the lake and eventually raising kids as our own legacy members at The Cliffs.


This story was featured in Cliffs Living magazine. To see more stories like this one and learn more about The Cliffs, subscribe here.

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